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Flora Gowa * 1874

Wandsbeker Chaussee 81 ggü. Nr. 96 (Wandsbek, Eilbek)

JG. 1874
ERMORDET 29.5.1943

Flora Gowa, born on 3 Jan. 1874 in Hamburg, deported on 15 July 1942 to Theresienstadt, died on 29 May 1943

Wandsbeker Chaussee opposite no. 96 (Wandsbeckerchaussee 81)

The Jewish religious tax (Kultussteuer) file card of the unmarried elementary school teacher (Volksschullehrerin) Flora Gowa dated 1935 indicates, impossible to overlook, "Corresp. to/Albert Gowa, Isestr. 57." The fact that a 61-year-old female teacher would not herself accept letters from her religious community, to which she was closely connected as her regular contributions show, is surprising and leads one to search for reasons and for the identity of Albert Gowa.

Flora Gowa’s parents, the merchant Emil Gowa and his wife Johanna, née Jacob, called Heymann, both belonged to Jewish families in Hamburg. Between 1867 and 1890, Johanna Gowa gave birth to four daughters and four sons. When Flora was born on 3 Jan. 1874, she already had siblings, sister Jenny (born in 1867), who was seven years older, and two brothers, Henry (born in 1868) and Hugo (born in 1870). She was followed by the sisters Paula (born in 1877) and Rosa (born in 1879), and after an interval of two years, by the above-mentioned Albert, born on 8 Nov. 1881, and finally, in Aug. 1890, by the latecomer Paul.

Flora’s father, Emil Gowa, lived in Hamburg-Neustadt until 1892 and moved from there to Böckmannstrasse 27 in St. Georg, where he died ten years later on 26 Mar. 1902. His widow stayed there with their daughters Jenny, Flora, Paula, and their son Paul, who was only eleven years old. She passed away on 17 Mar. 1908.

When Flora reached school age, there were two charity schools for Jewish girls, the precursors of the "Israelite Girls’ School” on Carolinenstrasse. It is not known which one of the two schools Flora attended. After the merger of the two educational establishments in 1884, Flora experienced first-hand a talented pedagogue in the person of Principal Mary Marcus, a person that may have been decisive for Flora’s own choice of career. Her sisters Paula and Rosa attended the "Israelite Girls’ School” from the very beginning. Flora got training to become an elementary school teacher in Hamburg at the teacher training college at Fuhlentwiete 81/83 in Hamburg-Neustadt. At the age of 19, on 1 Apr. 1893, she started teaching, and after working as a student teacher for four years, she received a permanent position on 1 Apr. 1897; two year later, her eligibility to a pension started. In 1896, she taught at the school at Vossberg 19 in Winterhude, in the 1899/90 school year at the school at Wandsbeker Chaussee 167/68 in Eilbek, and subsequently, until its closure in 1924, at the school at Kantstrasse 6, also in Eilbek. Before the First World War, she moved frequently, until settling at Wandsbeker Chaussee 81 in 1918.

Flora Gowa shared an apartment with her fellow teacher Margarethe Buchholtz. After the school was disbanded, Flora changed to the elementary school at Wielandstrasse 7, whereas Margarethe Buchholtz was transferred to the girls’ school at Eilbektal 37. Flora belonged both to the "Society of Friends of the Patriotic School and Education System” ("Gesellschaft der Freunde des Vaterländischen Schul- und Erziehungswesens”), the precursor of the subsequent teachers’ union, the Education and Science Workers’ Union (Gewerkschaft Erziehung und Wissenschaft – GEW), and to the "Association of Hamburg Female Elementary Teachers” ("Verein Hamburger Volksschullehrerinnen”). It is not known whether she worked in any capacity in these professional organizations.

With her career path, Flora Gowa had a special status within her family. Sisters Paula and Rosa became office workers and accountants, Jenny did not get any occupational training, probably because, being the oldest, she had to help her mother at home. Paula Gowa started her own business, opening a toy and stationary store on Tornquiststrasse in Eimsbüttel, where Jenny helped until her death in 1932. Until then, the three sisters had shared an apartment at Grindelberg 7.

Rosa Gowa began her gainful employment in 1894 as a cashier and accountant for the Hirsch & Cie. fashion house on Reesendamm and was forced to end her working career in 1938 in connection with the November Pogrom, an event that also caused Paula to lose her toy and stationary store. The two sisters shared a two-bedroom apartment at Isestrasse 58 (see the brochure on Stolpersteine in der Hamburger Isestrasse, p. 52).

The brothers Albert and Paul Gowa went into commercial careers. Both fought in the First World War. In 1915, Paul married Bertha, née Steinhilber, and died already in Nov. 1918, at the age of 27. Hugo, married to Flora, née Strauss, emigrated to New York and returned to Hamburg one more time on a visit in 1925, staying for several months with his brother Albert. Albert Gowa was married to the native of Cologne Elfriede, née Marx, since New Years’ Eve 1915; their marriage produced two children. His position as an authorized signatory with a company secured a good income for the family. He had belonged to the German-Israelitic Community in Hamburg even before World War I, whereas his sisters Flora, Paula, and Rosa joined the Community only in 1924. Henry, married to Clara, née Voss, since 1908, was co-owner of the Grossard & Gowa printing company. Following his death on 7 Jan. 1928, Albert looked after his brothers’ still underage children. It was also his responsibility to stand by his sister Flora.

For health reasons, Flora Gowa was retired at the age of 53 on 1 Sept. 1927. She suffered from diabetes, gradually losing her eyesight. Her pension did not suffice to maintain her previous lifestyle. She regarded the amount of her contribution to the Jewish Community as one means to economize. Initially, she turned to the tax and revenue office, asking to reduce her "church tax contribution” ("Kirchensteuerabgabe”), a request that was granted. Subsequent applications, which she justified with the expenses due to her illness, the "support of needy coreligionists,” were approved only sporadically.

Seven years after her retirement, in 1935, Flora Gowa and her colleague, who had also been given early retirement, decided to move to a shared four-bedroom apartment at Grindelallee 83. At this point, the fact that Margarethe Buchholtz was "Protestant-Aryan” did not have any significance to them yet.

Flora Gowa was not capable of writing herself anymore. At first, one Miss S. Benjamin residing at Oberstrasse 3 took care of her correspondence with the Jewish Community, then Margarethe Buchholtz took on that task for a short time. An eye operation in 1936 did not help her either. Until his emigration in Dec. 1938, her brother Albert took care of her correspondence. After the Pogrom of Nov. 1938, Albert Gowa was detained in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp for six weeks and released on the condition of leaving Germany immediately. He succeeded by December in departing for the USA.

In 1940, probably due to health reasons, Flora Gowa parted ways with Margarethe Buchholtz, who continued to stay in the previously shared apartment until her death on 30 June 1942. For the next three years, Flora lived in the Samuel Lewisohn-Stift at Kleiner Schäferkamp 32, a former residential home now turned into a "Jews’ house” ("Judenhaus”). From her pension, further reduced, she paid contributions to the Jewish Community that significantly exceeded the basic amount.

Her sisters Rosa and Paula, aged 62 and 64, were put on the substitute list for the first transport to the east and deported to the Lodz Ghetto on 25 Oct. 1941. It is not known whether Flora ever heard of her sisters again after that. She was forced to make her savings, amounting to 2,145.09 RM (reichsmark), over to the Jewish Religious Organization (Jüdischer Religionsverband) in Hamburg toward the "home purchase contract” ("Heimeinkaufsvertrag”), buying into the so-called "ghetto for the elderly” in Theresienstadt. The Organization in turn transferred the sum to the Reich Association of Jews in Germany (Reichsvereinigung der Juden in Deutschland). The funds were allegedly meant to settle all of the costs incurred in the supposed retirement home. Together with 28 male and female occupants of the Samuel Lewisohn-Stift, including her former colleague Louise Grün from Hamburg-Hohenfelde, Flora Gowa departed Hamburg on the first large-scale transport comprised of 926 persons for the Theresienstadt Ghetto on 15 July 1942. She died there on 29 May 1943 at the age of 69.

Status as of Feb. 2014

Translator: Erwin Fink

Kindly supported by the Hermann Reemtsma Stiftung, Hamburg.

© Hildegard Thevs

Quellen: 1; 4; 5; 7; 9; AB; StaH 332-5 Standesämter 934-40/1928, 1906-1793/1877, 1952-1318/1879, 2007-4307/1881, 8112-471/1932, 8180-301/1942, 332-7, K 6145; 351-11 Amt für Wiedergutmachung 2305, 3337, 4143, 5285; 522-1 Jüdische Gemeinden 992 d Steuerakten Band 10, 992 e Deportationslisten Band 1 und 4 Abl. 1993, Ordner 10 (Einzahlungen für Heimeinkaufsverträge 1942); Verzeichnis der Hamburger Volksschullehrer und -lehrerinnen des Stadt- und Landgebiets 1896–1915; Hamburgisches Lehrerverzeichnis 1920–1963.
Zur Nummerierung häufig genutzter Quellen siehe Link "Recherche und Quellen".

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